Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in home runs and MVP awards, the all-time leader in Cy Young Awards, and the only player to hit more than 60 home runs in three different seasons were on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this year.
Despite those accomplishments, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were not voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and many area residents were just fine with that because of the players’ connections to performance-enhancing drugs.
“If you can’t play by the rules, you don’t belong in that elite class,” Hagerstown resident Richard Schwartz, 51, said. “I care more about the game than whether or not they’re in the Hall of Fame.”
According to published reports, Bonds and Sosa where implicated for using performance-enhancing drugs during their careers. There are no reports of Clemens testing positive, but he was included in the Mitchell Report, the result of an investigation conducted by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell into the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone in Major League Baseball that was released in 2007.
However, every area resident who spoke with The Herald-Mail on Thursday said they believed all three players cheated and that they were against anybody who cheated in any way entering the Hall of Fame.
Martinsburg, W.Va., resident Russ Robinson, 50, mentioned the fact that other people have been kept out of the Hall of Fame in the past because of scandals.
“Pete Rose made a mistake years ago and he’s still banned,” he said. “You see too many pro athletes using drugs and getting caught, and normal citizens like us would be done with our careers in six months for it.”
Among all eligible voters for the Hall of Game, Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote, Clemens received 37.6 percent of the vote, and Sosa received 12.5 percent of the vote, all well short of the 75 percent needed to be inducted.
Hagerstown resident Davonte Hoke, 19, said that they deserved to be in the Hall of Fame because of the fact that they did not cheat in an era when cheating was rampant.
“They were talented baseball players and used the abilities that were given to them,” he said. “The ones who cheated didn’t use the talent that God gave them.”
Biggio led all candidates with 68.2 percent of the vote. Jack Morris, Bagwell, Piazza, and Tim Raines were the only other candidates to receive more than 50 percent of the vote. Schilling only received 38.8 percent.
Woodbine, Md., resident Chad Michael, 39, said that Schilling and Piazza deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, even though he was fine with Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens being left out.
“Schilling was pretty dominant during his time,” he said. “There’s no evidence of him or Piazza cheating.”
Falling Waters, W.Va., resident Jim Michael, 65, however, said that Major League Baseball is to blame for the issue of certain players not getting into the Hall of Fame, even if they are deserving.
“Baseball let things slide for so many years now, and it’s catching up to them,” he said. “I think people are starting to look at what’s going on with the sport.”
The last time nobody was voted into the Hall of Fame was 1996.
“There were too many players that had to earn their way in and didn’t do it by using drugs,” said Clarence Guessford, 66, of Williamsport. “Schilling and Piazza should’ve made it though.”
Guessford’s wife, Charlene, 66, agreed and described the situation “sad for the game.”
“There are other players who played with natural ability and didn’t get in,” she said. “For some of these players it wasn’t an honest way to get there.”